FACT CHECK: Did Pfizer Purposely Wait to Announce COVID-19 Vaccine?

Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine

Getty Fact-checking President Trump's claim that Pfizer waited until after the election to announce their coronavirus vaccine.

Pfizer Inc. announced that they have developed a COVID-19 vaccine that may be 90% effective, news which was a beacon of hope for people around the world who’ve been praying to get coronavirus under control. Pfizer released the news on November 9, which while based on early and incomplete test results, puts them on track to break every scientific speed record, according to The Washington Post.

However, President Donald Trump, who’s in the midst of a legal battle to refute the results of the 2020 presidential election, also questioned the timing of Pfizer’s announcement. On Twitter, he accused them of purposely waiting to release this exciting news until after Election Day.

However, Trump’s allegations are false, according to Pfizer CEO Dr. Albert Bourla, who informed Axios on Monday that they could have 50 million doses available by the end of the year. But as of today, the vaccine is not ready. Pfizer merely announced that they have promising preliminary data.

GettyLisa Taylor receives a COVID-19 vaccination from RN Jose Muniz as she takes part in a vaccine study at Research Centers of America on August 07, 2020 in Hollywood, Florida.

“I learned about those results yesterday, Sunday, at 2:00,” Bourla said, noting that once the Phase 3 trials are completed and analyzed, Pfizer’s data will be released for peer-reviewed publication. Boula also clarified that if he’d received this data sooner, he would’ve shared it sooner:

I’m telling to all of you that we will move with the speed of science. So if it was before, I would have released it before. If it is now, I’ll release them now. I learned about those results yesterday, Sunday, at 2:00. And the independent experts’ committee, independent from Pfizer, that unblinded the data and reviewed, they met at 11 and they finished their meeting at 1:30.

Trump, however, tweeted, “As I have long said, @Pfizer and the others would only announce a Vaccine after the Election, because they didn’t have the courage to do it before. Likewise, the @US_FDA should have announced it earlier, not for political purposes, but for saving lives!”

“If Joe Biden were President, you wouldn’t have the Vaccine for another four years, nor would the @US_FDA have ever approved it so quickly. The bureaucracy would have destroyed millions of lives!” Trump continued. “The @US_FDA and the Democrats didn’t want to have me get a Vaccine WIN, prior to the election, so instead it came out five days later – As I’ve said all along!”

Bourla States That Pfizer Didn’t Take Any Money Through Trump’s Operation Warp Speed

GettyUS President Donald Trump holds a press conference, flanked by Army Gen. Gustave Perna (L), who is leading Operation Warp Speed, and Dr. Moncef Slaoui (R), chief adviser to Operation Warp Speed, in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House in Washington, DC, September 18, 2020.

Bourla told Axios that he wanted to “keep Pfizer out of politics,” which is why they turned down the “free money” being offered through Operation Warp Speed. He said:

When you take money from someone, there are always strings attached. But it was not an easy decision from a fiduciary point of view because the level of investment eventually is approaching or will exceed the $2 billion eventually. But the reason why I did that was because I wanted to liberate our scientists [from] any bureaucracy that comes with having to give reports and agree how we are going to spend the money in parallel or together, etc.

And with that I unleashed the power of science, I think. And in retrospect, looking back, I’m very happy that I made this decision because we had the results I think much faster than otherwise if we were not unencumbered. And every day costs 1,000 lives only in the U.S. right now. So it’s a very big toll that we’re paying. Also, I wanted to keep Pfizer out of politics. I didn’t take money, not only from the U.S. government, but then the other government in the world that they were offering

Donald Trump Jr. Called The Timing of Pfizer’s Announcement ‘Nefarious’

The president’s son Donald Trump Jr. also accused Pfizer of keeping the vaccine from the public on purpose. He retweeted a comment from Fox News host Laura Ingraham, who also claimed Trump was “right about the vaccine” – what he was right about, however, was not clarified.

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